Giving to help the poor and the needy is a noble act that attracts God’s blessings when done in the right way and with the right motive. However, such acts of charity can easily degenerate into hypocritical spectacles that displease God. God loves a cheerful giver, but he hates giving with impure motives. We shall examine Scripture to see how we ought to give, so that our alms-giving will not be in vain.
St. Matthew 6:1 “Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.
St. Matthew 6:2 When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get.
St. Matthew 6:3 But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing.
St. Matthew 6:4 Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you (NLT).
The Lord Jesus warned his followers not to make a show of their acts of charity before men. He admonished his disciples not to blow their trumpets to attract attention to their good deeds. We are not to advertise our alms-giving. Not only are such acts of self-praise vainglorious, they are outright hypocritical! If our goal in doing good is to be admired by men, then publicising our acts for all to see will be in order. If that is our goal, we are free to do all we can to capture the headlines and hog the limelight. The praise and adulation of men would be sufficient reward for such egotistical drive.
However, if our goal is to please God and obtain his blessings, then we must be careful to perform our good deeds according to God’s dictate. When performing a charitable deed that you want rewarded by God, don’t shout about it. Don’t publicise it! Don’t go about blowing your trumpet! Give your alms as secretly as possible: don’t even let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. Give your offerings as anonymously as possible. Refuse to have your name publicised for men to hail and praise you. Resist the temptation even by men of God to bring you out for public praise and celebration. Do your acts of charity in the dark. Let only God know and see what you’re doing. When you give that way, it’ll be obvious you’re not seeking the praise of men. When you do good in secret while expecting nothing in return from men, your heavenly Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
In too many churches, we see people making a public show of giving, encouraged and energised by pastors who won’t hesitate to use all kinds of psychological gimmicks to “praise” money out of people’s pockets. We see people invited to the altar to openly announce the amount of money they intend to give for a project, accompanied by claps and praise from the congregation, led by the pastor! Usually, the amount of praise from the pastor and the congregation is directly proportional to the amount of money donated or pledged. This not only exalts the ego of the big donors, it also dampens the enthusiasm and morale of small donors, making them feel ashamed of their widow’s mite.
St. Luke 21:1 While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people putting their gifts into the collection box.
St. Luke 21:2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two pennies.
St. Luke 21:3 ” I assure you, ” he said, ” this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.
St. Luke 21:4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has. ” (NLT).
From the passage of Scripture above, we see that in God’s reckoning, it’s not just the amount of money one gives that matters or that decides who has given the greatest. It’s actually the proportion of one’s income given out that God counts. The rich men may have given more money, and may have done so with great fanfare and due recognition from the fawning priests, but they gave a lesser proportion of their income than the widow who gave all that she had (100% of her savings), though it amounted to only two pennies. The widow’s mite may not have impressed the priests in charge of the treasury. They may not have considered her worthy of praise for giving just two pennies. Nevertheless, God considered her two mites the greatest offering of the day! The widow’s mite may not have made a noticeable impact on the treasury, but it sure touched heaven and was recognised by God. Her reward was assured by the Lord.
When we give with wrong motives, though our gifts may bless men like ourselves, they do not impress God, and we receive no reward from him. The motives behind our actions are more important in the sight of God than the actions themselves, for God looks at the heart, though man may only see the outward appearance which may be deceptive.
1 Samuel 16:6 When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.” (NLT).
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.
Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done (NLT).
Think about it! God knows the reason and motive behind our every action, including our giving, though the pastor, like Samuel, may not see our hearts and intentions. That “humble” brother being praised to the sky by the pastor for his commitment and dedication to the work of God and for his wonderful gifts may just be a schemer trying to worm his way to a position of power and authority in the church. He may just be trying to impress people to help propel his personal agenda, and may have no interest at all in God’s work! That’s why we are not to judge anyone before that time when God shall lay open the secrets of men’s hearts for all to see their true motives and intentions!
1 Corinthians 4:5 So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether or not someone is faithful. When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due (NLT).
Even if we give all our goods to the poor and burn ourselves out for the good of others, it will profit us nothing in God’s reckoning if we are not inspired by love. Only deeds emanating from pure and unselfish love for God and man will be found worthy of God’s praise and blessings. Man may be deceived by acts of charity motivated by impure motives, but God is not!
1 Corinthians 13:3 If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever (CEB).
The Lord admonishes us to give with pure motives, expecting nothing back in the way of recompense from men. When we give as though we’re giving to God, and not to man, we will not seek the praise of men. We will not seek the recognition of men. We will not expect a reimbursement from men. When we give to God, we should expect our reward from God only!
St. Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked (NIV).
The giving that pleases God the most is the one directed towards the poor and the needy. God cares about all his children, but especially so about the poor and the needy among his people. Whatever we do for any of God’s needy people is described in Scripture as being done to God himself.
St. Matthew 10:40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
St. Matthew 10:41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.
St. Matthew 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (NIV).
St. Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ’Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
St. Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
St. Matthew 25:36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
St. Matthew 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
St. Matthew 25:38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
St. Matthew 25:39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
St. Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (NIV).
When we give to the poor, we are lending to God and we can be sure God will pay us back with huge interest! That’s what’s taught everywhere in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation.
Proverbs 19:17 If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and he will repay you! (NLT).
Psalms 112:9 They give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will never be forgotten. They will have influence and honor (NLT).
Our Lord taught us to specially remember the poor when we are rejoicing and feasting. The natural inclination during our moments of celebration is to invite only our kith and kin to our parties. We always invite people that can repay us with similar invitations during their own celebrations. However, Jesus gives a slightly different advice to his people when they’re feasting or partying. Let’s hear from the Master.
St. Luke 14:12 Then he turned to his host. ” When you put on a luncheon or a dinner,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will repay you by inviting you back.
St. Luke 14:13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
St. Luke 14:14 Then at the resurrection of the godly, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (NLT).
Yes, the poor and the needy are here with us to test our love for God. You cannot claim to love God whom you have not seen, while neglecting his poor children who are with you, especially when you can make a difference in relieving their needs. God is well pleased by such sacrificial love displayed towards the poor and needy of his people.
1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen (NIV).
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (NIV).
Hebrews 13:16 Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are pleasing to God (AMP).
In conclusion, giving to the poor and the needy is a great act of charity and worship that blesses men and glorifies God. However, such acts of charity can easily be transformed into an ego trip. We must be careful to always examine and purify our motives when we give, while ensuring that our alms are done in secret. It is only when we give willingly and cheerfully, out of a sanctified heart propelled by genuine love for God and man, that we will be abundantly blessed by God. Anything outside of this will not bring any divine blessings to us for our acts of charity, even if men praise us to the highest heavens.